Immune Netw.  2021 Feb;21(1):e10. 10.4110/in.2021.21.e10.

Single Cell Transcriptomic Re-analysis of Immune Cells in Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluids Reveals the Correlation of B Cell Characteristics and Disease Severity of Patients with SARS-CoV-2 Infection

  • 1Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Daejeon 34141, Korea
  • 2The Center for Epidemic Preparedness, KAIST Institute, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Daejeon 34141, Korea


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) is a global infectious disease with rapid spread. Some patients have severe symptoms and clinical signs caused by an excessive inflammatory response, which increases the risk of mortality. In this study, we reanalyzed scRNA-seq data of cells from bronchoalveolar lavage fluids of patients with COVID-19 with mild and severe symptoms, focusing on Ab-producing cells. In patients with severe disease, B cells seemed to be more activated and expressed more immunoglobulin genes compared with cells from patients with mild disease, and macrophages expressed higher levels of the TNF superfamily member B-cell activating factor but not of APRIL (a proliferation-inducing ligand). In addition, macrophages from patients with severe disease had increased pro-inflammatory features and pathways associated with Fc receptor-mediated signaling, compared with patients with mild disease. CCR2-positive plasma cells accumulated in patients with severe disease, probably because of increased CCL2 expression on macrophages from patients with severe disease. Together, these results support the hypothesis that different characteristics of B cells might be associated with the severity of COVID-19 infection.


SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; B cell; B cell activating factor; APRIL protein; Bronchial alveolar lavage fluid; Single-cell analysis
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